What spells romance for the average bark beetle? Mark Duggan looks at the research being done to better understand the world of these insects, information that can help to control the threat they pose as pests.

Richard Hofstetter

Dr. Richard Hofstetter, Assistant Professor at Northern Arizona University. Photo courtesy of The Ecological Restoration Institute at NAU.

Dr. Richard Hofstetter and Reagan McGuire have "beetle mania." Hofstetter is an Assistant Professor at Northern Arizona University's School of Forestry. McGuire is a Research Assistant. The two have been studying the habits of the bark beetle, a tiny bug that has killed millions of pine trees all over the West, including Arizona. Attempts to control it have been largely unsuccessful. However, Hofstetter and McGuire have been using a new approach to affect bark beetle behavior: They record the calls of the beetles, manipulate them, and play them back to them. The bugs react immediately.

Mark Duggan talks with Hofstetter and McGuire about setting up a habitat that was basically a sound stage. McGuire talks about the reaction of the beetles upon hearing their own heavily manipulated sounds.

Is this is a new way to control one of the West's most invasive species?

reagan mcguire var

Research Assistant Reagan McGuire. Photo courtesy of The Ecological Restoration Institute at NAU.

Dendroctonus ponderosae, or Mountain Pine Beetle, has a hard black exoskeleton and is about the size of a grain of rice (Photo from USDA Forest Service).

Bark Beetle information
Mountain Pine Beetle
Mountain Pine Beetle facts